Putting yourself First When you Care for Others
As a carer, it can be hard to create space and time for yourself. Whether you are caring for children, partners or elderly family members or maybe all three. Caring for others is a demanding role that takes time, patience and energy. it can feel like the role needs more than we have the ability to give. Caring is as draining as it is rewarding. Here are some ways to put yourself first when you care for others.
Take Time Away
Depending on your situation this might mean respite care or getting a babysitter. Getting away from your caring role might also mean stepping outside the room or leaving the house to get a breather. Taking time away from your role of caring for others is important to maintain your energy levels, patience and ability to care. For many carers, taking time away from the caring role can feel really difficult, when you are relied upon.
Do not feel guilty for needing to take a breather some times. You cannot give 100% of yourself to others and their needs 24/7. Sometimes you just need to be you or take a break from thinking about what others need. Your needs matter too so do not feel guilty for stepping away from your caring role. This is what allows you to carry on as a carer.
Know Your Limitations and Boundaries
You can’t do everything and be everywhere all the time. As much as you might want to be. Recognise and accept when you are at your limit. There will be days when finding the energy is hard so take it easy. Take care of yourself. Sometimes you are just going to have to go a bit slower and let other priorities wait. If you are a carer of any kind then you are really important to someone else. They need you to take care of yourself. Looking after yourself allows you to stay in that role.
Caring is a role that can often leave you feeling as if you are not enough. In reality, you probably aren’t. I do not mean as a person, we are all enough as we are. However, no one person is meant to be the sole carer for others, caring really needs to be a team effort at least some of the time. Recognise your boundaries. You do not have to be able to do everything the role demands on your own 24/7. There is nothing wrong with you for needing help, support or a break from your caring role. This has no relation to how you feel about those you care for. We all have limits and that isn’t a weakness. Take things easy where you can. Take that offer of help or ask others to help you when you need it.
Treat Yourself Kindly
Show yourself compassion when you have a hard day. Remember you are doing a hard job and you are doing your best. Caring is one of the hardest jobs out there. Don’t give yourself a hard time about the days where patience is in short supply. Don’t make a hard job harder by berating or guilt-tripping yourself about where you could have done things differently. Remember it is the situation that is the challenge it is not you that is lacking or inadequate. We often focus on where we make mistakes while letting each little win and accomplishment go by unacknowledged. Give yourself a pat on the back a little more often. You are doing the best you can in a hard situation, remember that!
Care for Yourself
The people we care for are usually the people that are important to us. Caring for others can be a wonderful gift. In addition, it can also be an exhausting struggle. One does not negate the other. You can love your children and be drained by caring for them. You can adore your elderly family but feel completely overwhelmed by looking after them.
Needing to take time out from your caring role is important whether that means leaving the room to take a breather or taking a day off from being the one who holds everything together. If you care for others then taking care of yourself is non-negotiable. You need to give yourself the same love and compassion you show those you care for. This self-care is what allows you to do your job and still maintain your own health and well-being.
Create a little space and time for yourself with meaningful self-care practices. Sign-up for my free audio collection, Find your Breathing Space and explore what helps you take care of yourself.
Originally published at https://www.lynnemcleanbrown.com on October 16, 2020.